Poachers shot dead tiger in Goa reserve, says wildlife activist

May 8th, 2009 - 12:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, May 8 (IANS) A tiger believed to have died after being caught in a steel trap in Goa’s Sattari wildlife sanctuary was actually shot dead by poachers, a wildlife activist said Saturday while alleging that the forest department was trying to cover up the incident.
Noted wildlife conservationist Rajendra Kerkar had last month provided the media with a photograph of the dead beast with a bloodied, fatal slash running horizontally from its rear torso.

Now, he says another photograph proves that the tiger was shot a little above its left flank by poachers since it was bleeding profusely.

“They shot the tiger because it was already injured and was of no use to them alive,” Kerkar told IANS.

He added that the photo was taken from a cellphone camera by the poachers and transferred via bluetooth to the mobile phones of their friends, from where it was leaked.

Kerkar alleged that the forest department was under pressure to cover up the poaching incident because several politicians run mining operations in the periphery of the wildlife reserve.

“The chief conservator of forests is under tremendous pressure to cover up the poaching. Mere acknowledgement of a resident tiger is very, very significant to Goa. The forest department has always been trying to scuttle efforts by wildlife enthusiasts to establish the presence of a tiger here. But this is different. A poached tiger makes it an extremely sensitive situation,” he said.

However, Chief Conservator of Forests Shashi Kumar said that department was finding it difficult to piece together the tiger poaching incident.

“Who gave Kerkar the photo? Why does he not tell us that? Why has he not been able to produce the person who took the photo?” Kumar asked.

Incidentally, the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee on wildlife is yet to be intimated by the forest department about the alleged poaching incident.

“There has been no formal representation by the forest department yet. We will ask for a report from the state government if someone informs us formally in writing. As of now we have only read some newspaper reports about a killed tiger,” CEC member Sanjiv Chadha told IANS.

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